G Suite Updates

Several updates are on the way over the next couple of weeks. Some are already live for you to use. Google makes these improvements based on user requests to make G Suite more convenient and efficient.

Already available: Email team members from within your Team Drive.

The majority of AAS is now using Google Team Drives to keep teams organized and to maintain secure files. Now when you are working in the Team Drive, you will not need to switch to Outlook or elsewhere to message your team. You can email team members from within the Team Drive.

Email team members from within Team Drive (image from https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com)

Already available: New ways to comment on PDFs, Microsoft files, and images in Google Drive

If you share an image, a PDF, or a Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint in Google Drive, you can now comment on these files and reply to others’ comments as well. You simply click on the file in Drive, highlight the text or area you wish to comment on, and then add your comment. You can also click on others’ comments to reply in line.

This could be used for team collaboration or perhaps for student groups to annotate or converse about an image or document.

Provide quick feedback on the most popular file formats, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and PDF files, in the Drive preview pane. (image from https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com)

Coming soon: More intelligent organization and search in Shared with me.

The Shared with me view of Google Drive can be overwhelming or confusing. I think of it as a river flowing past. I can stand on a bridge above it, fish out useful items, and add them to My Drive to organize them.

Soon Shared with me will be organized by artificial intelligence that aims to predict the people and files you are most likely to search for. This machine learning should improve the more you use it.

Intelligent organization in Shared with me (image from https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com)

Coming soon: See who has viewed files you own or edit.

Under the Tools menu in G Suite apps, you will find Activity dashboard. This pop-up will show you when others have viewed the file. This is not meant to replace Version history, which allows you to see all changes made by other editors on the file. (Did you know that you can also name specific versions? No need to save drafts as separate documents.)

The Activity dashboard will help you decide how and when you might need to follow up with someone who needed to view the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. Only editors of the file will see the viewers, and there will be some limitations based on how widely/publicly a file is shared.

Activity dashboard (image from https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/)

Find more details here.

Menu updates:

Changes that affect the Google Docs and Google Slides menus: 

  • In the Format menu, text formatting options (including bold, italic, font size, and more) will be moved to a new “Text” submenu.



Changes that affect only Google Slides menus: 

  • The Table menu will be removed. Options to add or remove a table will be in the Insert menu. Options to format tables will be in the Format menu.
  • In the Slide menu, four options for moving slides will be moved to a new “Move” submenu.
  • In the Arrange menu, “Align horizontally” and “Align vertically” will be moved into a new “Align” submenu.

Changes that affect only Google Docs menus and toolbars: 

  • In the toolbar, text color and highlight color will be split into separate controls for each.
  • In the toolbar, a new option will be added to “Insert image”
  • The Table menu will be removed. Options to add or remove a table will be in the Insert menu. Options to format tables will be in the Format menu. 





Changes that affect all G Suite editor menus (including Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets): 

  • Items in the Insert menu will be reordered.

Google Classroom: A Fresh Start

Click to go to Classroom!

Start the year with a fresh view and updates in Google Classroom! Here are some recommendations, enhancements, and reminders to make this a valuable tool for students and for you.

Clean Up Last Year – *DO NOT do this for ongoing IB classes!*

  1. Return student work – This makes the student the owner of her/his work. If you want some copies of exemplary work, make your own copies just in case the assignments shared with you are deleted by the owner(the student).
  2. Unenroll students – This will eliminate the class from the student’s view of Classroom.
  3. Archive Classes – This will remove the class from your current view in Classroom. This course and all assignments, announcements, and questions will be viewable and re-usable.

New Features – more detail here 

  • Rearrange courses in the main view
  • Display class code full screen
  • See all work from a single student

 Best Practices

  • Post all assignments, even non-digital, with enough description for students and parents to understand its objective(s). This allows students and parents to be better informed. Be sure that Guardian Email Summaries is activated for all classes.
  • Use Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, PDFs rather than Word, PPT, Excel. This makes workflow more efficient for the students and for you.
  • Keep things organized(and sortable) with Topics.
  • Use the About section strategically to provide students with access to things that they will need throughout the year. Perhaps a Google Doc syllabus or link list to connect to key resources or folders of materials.

Code Week! 5-9 December, 2016

MS/HS Teachers and Admin are invited to try out coding and integrate it into classes during the week of 5-9 December.

Hour of Code was started by Code.org to encourage schools to include computer programming and computational thinking throughout the curriculum. This year they have added many new resources for a wide variety of abilities and interests.

Computer Science is Changing Everything!

A variety of activities and resources will be available and on display in the student lounge throughout the week. We are also coordinating visits by representatives from Microsoft, Yandex, and Google, who will be talking with students and demonstrating coding applications. Feel free to stop by the student lounge and in 2069(MS Lab) with a class to join in.

Better yet, try to integrate some code into your class during this week. Below are some suggested websites with a variety of ways to get started. Check them out! And definitely contact Devin or Paul for support. We’re happy to help.

Art – Processing(a site dedicated to coding in Visual Arts), CodeHS(Graphic Design with JavaScript), Fashion Design(Made with Code)

Music – Sonic Pi, ScratchMade with Code

Science – Scratch, Snap, VidcodeKhan Academy(SQL for databases)

Humanities/English/Social Studies – Thimble, Codesters, Globaloria,

Math – Scratch, Codesters, Wolfram Programming Lab, Khan Academy(SQL for databases)

World Languages – MIT App Inventor, Scratch(This link shows Russian-related projects; search for Spanish and French to find more.), Globaloria(click on Spanish instructions and write game directions in Spanish), Code.org (The entire website can be translated/viewed in Russian, Spanish, or French.)

For anyone: Code.org App Creator StudioMIT App Inventor, Thimble(web design basics), Code.org

Additionally, you should be aware of an effort by Google to get more girls into coding because “less than 1% of high school girls study Computer Science”:

Get involved!

Twitter: Fantastic PD & PLN

I’m sure most people have heard of Twitter. Many teachers have created an account (it’s free) at a PD session or conference at some point. But often we forget about it or say that we are too busy to spend time sifting through streams of information for useful ideas.

The truth is that Twitter, like any social network, can be a major time drain. However, a few key strategies can help you ease into it and start to make it worth the time and effort.

Curate your PLN

Really, Twitter allows you to curate and collect only information that you will find useful. And MANY, MANY educators use it regularly to learn and to share their learning.

A good way to get started is to follow a few teachers, education professionals, gurus in your field, and organizations related to the subject you teach. Follow a few colleagues from AAS too. During PD days, tweet some of the thoughts that strike you, photos/videos of the images/scenes that inspire you, and the ideas you want to revisit or think about further. When you attend a conference or PD session, watch for posted hashtags or twitter IDs of presenters. Or look up any presenters and see if they are on Twitter. You might want to start by following @HeidiHayesJacob and her organization — @Curriculum21. Here are some others:

For Admin: Lead Up NowEric Sheninger, George Couros, Dan McCabeMike Crowley, Arnie Bieber

For Elementary: Kath Murdoch, Anne van Dam, Maria PopovaDonalyn Miller, Margie Myers-Culver, Amanda McCloskey

For Math: Dan Meyer, Dr. Math E Matics, Alice Keeler

For Science: Google Science Fair, The Association for Science Educators

For English: Jim Burke, Penny Kittle, NCTE, Poetry FoundationGrammar Girl

For Social Studies: Data Is Beautiful, vox.com, The Economist, Nick Dennis

For Art: Google Arts&Culture, Nicki Hambleton, The Art of Education

For EVERYONE: Edutopia, Eduporium, Mindshift, Common Sense EducationASCD, IBO, IB PYP, IB DP 

And if you are seeing irrelevant posts in your Twitter feed, simply unfollow those people or organizations.


What should I tweet?

First, you don’t need to tweet at all if you don’t want to. You can simply watch/listen/read to what others are saying/posting. It can be useful to retweet ideas, links, and sources that you want to collect and revisit at some point. In this way Twitter can be a microblog of thoughts and resources that you agree with and want to explore further. It doesn’t matter if you have followers. You can simply use Twitter to feed your own professional development.


Using hashtags(#) is a way to sift through Twitter to find out what people are saying about a topic and to join in if you want to. Inserting a hashtag into your tweets also will connect you to others having an asynchronous conversation. The great thing about #hashtags is that you don’t need to know some official list. You can make them up as you go. However, you will see common hashtags in others’ posts and then start to use them.

Here are some frequently used education hashtags: #pyp, #pypchat, #ibdp, #edtech, #edchat, #pbl, #UbD, #engchat, #scichat, #mathchat, #litchat.

To make tweeting at AAS more coherent,
we should use common hashtags:



AASMoscow Tweets List

Another possibility is to create a Twitter List based on a group or topic you would like to follow. I have created a public list called AASMoscow Tweets, containing connections to the AAS faculty who I know are at least occasional tweeters. You can subscribe to this list to follow the ideas and postings of other AAS faculty.

If you don’t see yourself on this list, please tweet to me @PaulJCarpenter so I can add you. And remember to use @AAS_Moscow when referring to AAS.


TweetDeck and other similar tools allow you to focus only on following specific streams. It allows you to follow a certain hashtag or a certain list of people, such as the AASMoscow Tweets list.


Google Classroom Parent/Guardian Email Summaries

Google has recently added a feature to Classroom that allows parents/guardians to receive a daily or weekly email summary of their student’s class details. It consolidates information from all classes into one message, and it is automated so that teachers do not have to send it manually.

The email will include:

  • Missing work—Work that’s late at the time the email was sent
  • Upcoming work—Work that’s due today and tomorrow (for daily emails) or work that’s due in the upcoming week (for weekly emails)
  • Class activity—Announcements, assignments, and questions recently posted by teachers

Teachers need to do two things: 

  1. After you have created all of your classes, in the Student section of Classroom, the teacher must activate the Guardian Email Summaries. After all of your students are enrolled, the parent email addresses will be added for you.
  2. Use Google Classroom often! Make announcements, post assignments, pose questions, and check to see that student work is turned in.

Here’s what parents/guardians will see:

Parents will receive instructions for subscribing from AAS soon. They can always choose to unsubscribe if they do not wish to receive so much information.

If you want more information, check out the links below.